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From Middle English holiday, halidei, haliȝdei, from Old English hāliġdæġ ‎(holy day, Sabbath), equivalent to holy +‎ day. Cognate with West Frisian hjeldei ‎(holiday), Danish helligdag ‎(holiday), Norwegian helligdag ‎(holiday), Swedish helgdag ‎(holiday, feast).



holiday ‎(plural holidays) (chiefly Britain)

  1. A day on which a festival, religious event, or national celebration is traditionally observed.
    Today is a Wiccan holiday!
  2. A day declared free from work by the state or government.
  3. A period of one or more days taken off work by an employee for leisure.
  4. A period during which pupils and students do not attend their school or university.
    I want to take a French course this summer holiday.
  5. A period taken off work or study for travel or leisure.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, The Celebrity:
      No matter how early I came down, I would find him on the veranda, smoking cigarettes, or [] . And at last I began to realize in my harassed soul that all elusion was futile, and to take such holidays as I could get, when he was off with a girl, in a spirit of thankfulness.
  6. A gap in coverage, e.g. of paint on a surface, or sonar imagery.[1]


  • (day on which a festival, etc, is traditionally observed): feast day (celebratory religious event)
  • (day declared free from work by the government): Bank Holiday (UK), national holiday
  • (period of one or more days taken off work by an employee for leisure): leave, time off
  • (period taken off work or study for travel): vacation (US)
  • (gap in coverage): lacuna

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


holiday ‎(third-person singular simple present holidays, present participle holidaying, simple past and past participle holidayed) (chiefly Britain)

  1. To take a period of time away from work or study.
  2. (Britain) To spend a period of time for travel.



  1. ^ Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: June 26, 2007).